My Nana’s Salsa Challenge celebrated its 25th anniversary Saturday at Tempe Beach Park, drawing approximately 20,000 people. Temperatures in the mid-80s were kept in check by a nice breeze, which made for an almost perfect afternoon.
One of the cool things about the Salsa Challenge are the colorfully decorated booths, such as this one from Spicy Mamasita, which displayed paintings by Tawny Gamboa.
This boy got a birds-eye view of the fest.
One of the longest lines was at Phat Boys Salsa, which won the festival’s overall crown in 2007 and ‘08.
Phat Boys chef Jeff Coronado waves to someone in the crowd.
My Baby Got Back apparently was targeting a young demographic.
Speaking of kids, they had plenty to do, such as this mini foosball game.
For some reason, people in Hawaiian shirts seemed to gravitate toward the Arizona Parrot Head Club booth, which is always a fan favorite.
This was one of my favorite salsas. It may look like a typical salsa but …
… it’s made with honey and cinnamon. Very sweet and very hot, at least the spicy version. Edwardo’s also was handing out a mild version.
As always, many Valley restaurants participated. Here, a young critic reviews Someburros’ salsa.
If things got too hot, a small army of margarita makers stood at the ready.
Perhaps my favorite name of the festival. The Gilbert group also makes a good salsa: They were crowned the 2009 grand champion. The full list of winners:
Grand champion: Drunken Jalapenos
Margarita champion: Clint Spotleso, Cadillac Ranch
Individual (hot): 1. Drunken Jalapenos, 2. Clyde Gaston, 3. Justin Early
Individual (mild): 1. Eric Gherra, Senor Zeiks; 2. Drunken Jalepenos; 3. Elisa Cazares
Business (hot): 1. Accredo Health Services, 2. Casino Arizona, 3. Factor Health Management
Business (mild): 1. Walgreens, 2. Bridgewater Realty, 3. Gage the Heat
Restaurant (hot): 1. Macayo’s, 2. Barrio Cantina, 3. Cadillac Ranch
Restaurant (mild): 1. Someburros, 2. Dos Gringos, 3. El Penasco.
Best of show: Drunken Jalepenos
Best booth: Arizona Parrot Heads
Peoples choice: Tyler Whentton